‘Jagged Little Pill’ star visited Narcotics Anonymous for research

By Barbara Hoffman

January 8, 2020 | 1:27pm | Updated

Elizabeth Stanley

Mary Jane is a suburban tiger mom, addicted both to opioids and to keeping up appearances.

That we end up caring so deeply about her, Alanis Morissette says, is a tribute to Elizabeth Stanley, who plays her in “Jagged Little Pill.” Written by Diablo Cody, Broadway’s new musical was inspired by Morissette’s raw, revolutionary songs of teen angst — only to revolve around a mom.

“Elizabeth’s commitment to character is as unwavering as it is breathtaking,” Morissette tells The Post. “She brought these songs to a whole other level of emotion and gravitas and vulnerability.”

Adds “Jagged” director Diane Paulus: “There’s nothing Elizabeth Stanley can’t do. I feel the world needs to come out and see what this woman is capable of!”
Many theatergoers already have. Stanley’s been featured in “Cry-Baby,” “Million Dollar Quartet,” “On the Town” and a 2006 revival of “Company” that had her playing oboe, sax and tuba.

At least “Jagged” doesn’t make her blow her own horn.

“Yes!” Stanley says. “That was stressful, because that’s not what I’ve focused on. But I went to a small high school, and we couldn’t put on big musicals.” After learning all those instruments along the way, she’s making up for lost time.

At brunch on the Upper West Side, her new home turf, the blue-eyed blonde in the bright white sneakers looks like the Midwesterner she was. Growing up in Iowa and Illinois, she started performing in community theaters at 10. Her high school, the one without the big theater department, was surrounded by cornfields.

And while she didn’t own a copy of “Jagged Little Pill” in 1995, when the album came out, her friends did.

The 30- and 40-somethings who can recite every lyric by heart are now lining up to see the musical. But most Morissette fans can only dream of meeting the seven-time Grammy winner whom Stanley calls “an angel.”

“You can tell she’s been famous for a long time,” the actress says, “because she’s an expert at making everyone around her feel at ease. She’s effusive and warm, and has been very generous with all of us.”

Stanley says that, just before the show’s Broadway opening, Morissette gave every member of the cast a pill-shaped earring.

It’s the only pill Stanley’s taken to heart.

Elizabeth Stanley shows off an earring that Alanis Morrisette gave to her and other cast members.


“My friends will tell you I’m pretty square,” she says, laughing. To get a better sense of Mary Jane, she read widely on addiction and attended open meetings of Narcotics Anonymous.

“There were a billion real-life things to draw upon,” Stanley says. She’s still haunted by a documentary in which a woman broke her own arm, just for the painkillers she’d get in the emergency room.

When Stanley was just starting out as an actress in New York, she says, she worked occasionally as a nanny for the overprivileged few. It showed her just how invested some people are with keeping up appearances, no matter what’s going on in their lives.

“That’s what I love so much about this character,” she says of Mary Jane. “She’s trying so hard to hide the deep pain she’s in.”

Little wonder why, after a two-show day, all Stanley craves is time with her boyfriend and a solid nine hours of sleep. That hasn’t been easy lately, with holiday visits from family and a New Year’s Eve appearance in Times Square.

“It’s been awesomely exciting,” she says, “but I’m ready for things to be boring!”

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